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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (2010) 158168

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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

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The astrological roots of mesmerism

Simon Schaffer
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH, UK

a r t i c l e
Keywords: Astrology Mesmerism Astro-meteorology Animal magnetism Barometers

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
Franz Anton Mesmers 1766 thesis on the inuence of the planets on the human body, in which he rst publicly presented his account of the harmonic forces at work in the microcosm, was substantially copied from the London physician Richard Meads early eighteenth century tract on solar and lunar effects on the body. The relation between the two texts poses intriguing problems for the historiography of medical astrology: Mesmers use of Mead has been taken as a sign of the Vienna physicians enlightened modernity while Meads use of astro-meteorology has been seen as evidence of the survival of antiquated astral medicine in the eighteenth century. Two aspects of this problem are discussed. First, French critics of mesmerism in the 1780s found precedents for animal magnetism in the work of Paracelsus, Fludd and other early modern writers; in so doing, they began to develop a sophisticated history for astrology and astro-meteorology. Second, the close relations between astro-meteorology and Meads project illustrate how the environmental medical programmes emerged. The making of a history for astrology accompanied the construction of various models of the relation between occult knowledge and its contexts in the enlightenment. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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1. Introduction The human mind has two epochs: complete ignorance and semi-science. The rst was very long; we are now in almost every respect in the second. In the age of complete ignorance, people were mistaken in accepting every error, without examination, as truth; and in the age of semi-science, people are mistaken almost as often, in rejecting many truths as errors. (Antoine-Joseph-Michel Servan, A provincials doubts proposed to the physician-commissioners charged by the King with the examination of animal magnetism, 1784, p. 90) Before hypnotism, there was mesmerism; before mesmerism, there was animal magnetism; before animal magnetism, there was animal gravity. This term, animal gravity, appeared rst in an essay by Franz Mesmer presented to the Vienna medical school in May 1766, a Physico-medical dissertation on the inuence of the planets (Amadou, 1971, p. 40; Bloch, 1980, p. 14). Its author, a Swabian in his early thirties, had already studied theology at the Jesuit colleges at Dillingen and Ingolstadt and came downriver to Vienna

to study law in 1759. Mesmer was not always the most reliable informant about his own deeds and sufferings. The title page of his dissertation claimed he held a philosophy doctorate he almost certainly did not possess. As is now well known and as his gnomic reference to gravity implied, the dissertation was in large part plagiarised from the work of the eminent London physician Richard Mead, whose Latin Discourse concerning the inuence of the Sun and Moon on animal bodies, rst published in 1704, was thereafter revised, translated, and released in a host of editions in London, Paris, Frankfurt and elsewhere well into the late eighteenth century. As Frank Pattie rst pointed out half a century ago, Mesmers source was Meads 1746 London edition, De imperio solis ac lunae in corpora humana (Mead, 1746; Pattie, 1956; Amadou, 1971, pp. 2931). The aim here is not to rehearse the details of that ingenious transposition of a Whig physicians judicious reexions on aerial tides into a charismatic Viennese therapists visionary cosmology. In fact, Mesmer explicitly named Mead as his predecessor in the text of the dissertation. Rather, by re-examining intriguing aspects of the status of these texts and the milieux of their composition and interpretation, it will be argued that some of the debates

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around Mead and Mesmer included unusually important assessments of the history of astrology. The medico-astrological condition of the body played a decisive role here. The mesmerism controversies represented a salient moment when medical astrology became a topic for historical inquiry, as well as being a signal episode in the history of that enterprise. Histories of past knowledges help make the familiar somewhat stranger and the exotic a little less odd. Historians nd Mesmers use of Mead a sign of the enlightened culture of the founder of animal magnetism, yet nd Meads use of medical astrology a sign of the backward-looking state of the London physicians intellectual development (Porter, 1985; Roos, 2000). This apparent historiographic contradiction is the concern of the rst section of this paper. It then becomes important to study how Mesmers place in the history of medical astrology was understood in the late eighteenth century, whether as splendidly enlightened or appallingly outdated. Antimesmerist writers discussed in the papers second section developed a complex and sophisticated history of astro-meteorology to put Mesmer where they wanted him. Their histories included some strikingly positive appraisals of the doctrines of those judged his predecessors, such as William Maxwell and Robert Fludd (Kassell, 2007). These judgments invite a re-evaluation of the understanding of astro-meteorology in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The balance of the paper, therefore, devotes attention to the ways in which Meads astro-meteorology and its contemporary projects were developed from resources available in Augustan Londons medical, meteorological and commercial enterprises. These cases show how intricate relations between bodily and atmospheric conditions were crucial aspects of the periods environmental histories and therapies (Jordanova, 1979; Golinski, 2007, pp. 170184). Writers of that epoch were sensitive to the intriguing relation between the capacity of atmospheric powers to act remotely on the body and the capacity of beliefs about these powers. It was, in the end, not the mesmerists but rather their enemies who explained away animal magnetism and animal gravity as effects on the body of the immense powers of imagination (Azouvi, 1976; Bauer, 1984). This is why it is worth exploring the imaginative and material conditions of the emergence of animal gravity and its cognate principles in the mesmerist debates. 2. Mesmer reads Mead This is what Mesmer found in, then copied from, Meads text. The London physician provided much familiar evidence that the position of the Moon affected the motion of terrestrial airs and waters. The brilliant analysis by the Royal Societys then recently elected president, Isaac Newton, presented in the 1687 Principia mathematica and made accessible in the summary prepared by Edmond Halley for the Catholic king James II and printed in the Philosophical Transactions, showed how the combined action of Moon and Sun raised the tides (Mead, 1746, pp. iiiii; 1748, p. vii). The same must be true of winds and the atmosphere: especially so, since the air was rather nearer the celestial bodies than was the sea. Winds blew strongly at the equinoxes, while the great storm of November 1703, which raged across Britain a few months before Mead completed his rst version of the text, coincided precisely with the Moon in perigee (Mead, 1708, p. 29; 1746, pp. 9899; 1748, pp. 104107; Golinski, 2007, pp. 4352). Air had of course long been taken to be responsible for epidemic constitutions and to catalyse disharmony of the humours, while attention to the powers of the non-naturals grew following renewed attention to the Hippocratic tradition. With Mead and his closest medical contemporaries air, or indeed a range of airs, came to be seen as the principal agents in disease, no longer one among many non-naturals (Riley, 1987, pp. 915; Rusnock, 2002; Golinski, 2007, pp. 140

144). Effects of solar and lunar position on aerial motion would consequently matter much to health. Weaker beings, the sick, female and the aged, would indeed be even more subject to these inuences (Mead, 1746, p. 29; 1748, p. 32). Respiration caused blood circulation through air pressure, thus aerial weight changes would directly affect the blood (Mead, 1708, p. 12; 1746, p. 25; 1748, p. 27). And since the nervous uids were composed of tinier and springier particles, they would respond even more dramatically to these atmospheric tides (Mead, 1746, p. 34; 1748, p. 37). There were some puzzles about evidence for such aerial ows, notably that of the newfangled barometers marketed by ingenious London makers. No obvious barometric falls could be systematically observed at new or full Moon: Mead hazarded that this could be explained away by perturbations of gravity and of efuvial motions (Mead, 1708, pp. 1012; 1746, pp. 1517; 1748, pp. 1720). In any case, the consent of ancient authority and long-term medical meteorology conrmed atmospheric tidology. The lunar periodicity of menstruation, epilepsy and the (signicantly named) lunacy was well known to Galenists. Indeed, this powerful action of the Moon is observed not only by philosophers and natural historians, but even by the common people who have been fully persuaded of it time out of mind (Mead, 1746, p. 76; 1748, pp. 8283). Meads text accompanied these reexions on atmospheric tidology and its bodily consequences with a host of well attested cases of celestial periodicity. Thus in his celebrated Spicilegium anatomicum (1670) the north German physician Theodore Kerckring reported a young gentlewoman whose beauty depended upon the lunar force, insomuch that at full moon she was plump and very handsome, but in the decrease of the planet so wan and ill-favoured that she was ashamed to go abroad. Mead added the shy argument that if this seems strange, it is indeed no more than an inuence of the same kind which the Moon has always been observed to have upon shellsh (Mead, 1746, p. 58; 1748, p. 64). Lunar effects on shellsh were well recognised in astrological tradition and had been given renewed meaning by writers such as the royal physician Walter Charleton, who in 1654 explained that shellsh grew larger at full moon, perhaps because of the Moons great Humidity developed from the lunar seas, as the most and best of our Modern Astronomer have believed, or perhaps simply because full moons raised greater tides so encouraged shellsh growth (Charleton, 1654, p. 352; Roos, 2001, p. 191). Episodes closer to home conrmed the doctrine of celestial inuence. On the day of Oliver Cromwells death, 3 September 1658, there was a great storm much affected by the Moon. Mead offered the retrospective diagnosis that the Lord Protector died of a fever accompanied with grief from the unhappy state of his domestic affairs, and its very certain that grief disposes the animal spirits to be easily affected by causes of this nature (Mead, 1746, p. 108; 1748, p. 114). Mead knew a Thames-side boatman whose daughter suffered periodic ts: the mariner was able to anticipate the river tides simply by observing the onset of his daughters crises (Mead, 1746, p. 40; 1748, p. 44). The London medics pre-eminent patron and colleague, the great Edinburgh physician Archibald Pitcairne, suffered nosebleeds at the new moon when the barometer was unusually low (Mead, 1746, p. 49; 1748, p. 54). Anecdotes from Joshua Childreys Britannia Baconica (1661) and from John Goads Astro-meteorologia (1686), canonical texts of the Baconian reforms of astro-meteorology much promoted in Restoration Britain, were also mobilised to good effect (Mead, 1708, p. 31; 1746, p. 4; 1748, pp. 45; Curry, 1987, pp. 247248). Medical implications were much stressed: the received Galenic attention to critical days, now grown into disuse, quite slighted and even ridiculed, could well be revamped by systematic attention to solar and lunar cycles as they acted through gravity on the atmosphere and thus on the human body (Mead, 1746, p. 60; 1748, p. 66).


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Now consider what the young Vienna medical student made of this assemblage of ancient medical meteorology and more recent corpuscular and gravitational cosmology. While his decision to plagiarise Meads text represents an unusually immediate engagement with London doctrine, the Vienna school was in close touch with such tradition. Mesmers professor was the prestigious Netherlandish physician Anton de Haen, head of the great Vienna hospital since 1754. De Haens lectures were stocked with materials from his hero Thomas Sydenham and subsequent London physicians, including Mead. From British experimenters he also adopted the working principles of modish electrotherapy. De Haen welcomed the imperial decree issued by Joseph II in 1758 against notions of bewitchment or diabolical possession in physic and rejoiced, too, when the Jesuits were suppressed throughout the Habsburg lands in 1773 (Neuberger, 1942, pp. 488489). A few years later the professor composed a book De miraculis, a pugnacious analysis of the notorious Swabian exorcist Johann Gassner, who as part of his struggles with the Devil claimed many wondrous cures throughout the southern German lands and would soon after be widely seen as a precedent for Mesmers own therapies (Midelfort, 2005, p. 46). For de Haen, as even more spectacularly for his student Mesmer, such episodes were best understood as effects of sympathy and animal spirits, certainly not as miracles or aspects of crypto-Jesuit priestly war with the dark powers. To this extent, therefore, Mesmer early found Meads text a useful account of the role of natural powers in the celestial action of the suffering body. He straightforwardly reproduced Meads summary of Newtonian tidology, agreed that this implied forms of atmospheric ebb and ow, then added a few sentences from Pliny on the conjunction of earthquakes with the equinoxes and from Baglivi on the correlation with planetary conjunctions (Amadou, 1971, p. 39; Bloch, 1980, p. 13). All but one of the cases that Mesmer cited to evidence lunar and solar correlations with periodic diseases were taken straight from Mead; the sole exception was copied (but inaccurately cited) from Sydenhams writings on epidemic constitutions (Amadou, 1971, p. 43; Bloch, 1980, p. 17). However, as Pattie noted, Mesmer also added a subsequently crucial argument of his own. Whereas Mead insisted that gravity acted on the body through the mediation of air and cognate uids, Mesmer was prepared to countenance a direct and immediate power acting between celestial and corporeal agents (Pattie, 1956, p. 279). There is in addition another kind of inuence which acts on the animal body, an inuence which does not seem to depend on these common qualities of the atmosphere, but rather depends immediately on that force which . . . affects the most internal particles of every material body. Mesmer in some respects took Newton even more seriously than did Mead. He wrote of that force which is the cause of universal gravitation which intensies, remits and agitates cohesion, elasticity, irritability, magnetism and electricity. The name of this force, he proposed, was to be animal gravity (Bloch, 1980, p. 14). Historians of mesmerism have often stressed the telling vocabulary of the doctoral dissertation. They sometimes note the debts to Mead, the addition of a more direct role for gravity in the animal economy and in particular draw attention to the notion of consensus and of harmony which Mesmer deployed in this early work (Amadou, 1971, p. 30; Buranelli, 1976, pp. 3536; Gillispie, 1980, p. 262; Porter, 1985, p. 1; Pattie, 1994; Gauld, 1995, pp. 24; Riskin, 2002, p. 198). The animal body was characterised by a harmony which could well be disturbed by air and gravity (Bloch, 1980, p. 19). Harmony, too, was the dominant theme of the entire cosmos. Compare the closing passages of Meads and of Mesmers works. The genteel Augustan virtuoso Richard Mead offered a then conventional summary of Anglican theodicy: possibly it was agreeable to the divine wisdom to create the world in such a manner that natural causes should now and then produce evils and

inconveniencies on mankind when it was necessary to affright with storms, thunder and other extraordinary phenomena, in order to keep them in a continual sense of their duty (Mead, 1746, pp. 110111; 1748, p. 117). Thus in Meads cosmos celestial agents were mediated through a general enlightened providence, carefully scheduled to the timetables of secular history (Jordanova, 2001). The Vienna adept left a different message, one rather more oriented towards astral medicine. The harmony established between the astral plane and the human plane must be admired as much as the ineffable effect of universal gravitation, by which our bodies are harmonised. The evidently musical tones of bodily tension dictated that human bodies react to those of the astral bodies with which they nd themselves linked by a certain harmony and determined according to sex, age, temperament and other various characteristics (Bloch, 1980, pp. 1920). In the somewhat troubled aftermath, Mesmer frequently found it necessary to recall such passages, which he characteristically reinterpreted. His animal magnetic enterprise was rst launched in the Austrian capital in 1773. By 1778 his highly controversial practice had shifted to the salons of Paris. In mesmeric sances, while aristocratic women gathered round barrels of magnetised water, grasped metal rods and had crises induced by the masturbatory activities of their mesmeric companions, the room would be carefully stocked with thermometers and barometers designed to monitor the gravitational changes of the harmonic atmosphere (Vinchon, 1971, pp. 6668). And once this therapeutic programme was underway, he then told a north German physician that it was long ago, in the doctoral dissertation of 1766, that he had rst proclaimed universal attraction, animal gravity or animal magnetism. Soon after, he insisted once again that 1766 was the moment when the new doctrine was rst proclaimed (Paulet, 1784, p. 50; Amadou, 1971, pp. 49, 61; Bloch, 1980, pp. 25, 46; Pattie, 1956, p. 285). Though his subsequent career was much dominated by the puzzles of experimental magnetism, natural and animal, at this stage the link with gravity seemed to Mesmer at least as worthwhile. Animal magnetism, he told his ock, is a reconciliation of two known sciences, astronomy and medicine (Amadou, 1971, p. 93). The connection here proposed with astronomy and with medicine spoke directly to the local institutional politics of Vienna. The then head of the Vienna Observatory, Maximilian Hell, was a Hungarian Jesuit of great inuence at the Habsburg court. Well before Mesmer composed his Physico-medical dissertation, Hell had already started work on magnetism and astronomy. In Lapland during the chilly winter of 1769 to observe the transit of Venus, the Jesuit astronomer also paid considerable attention to magnetic variation and dip, urged that temporal shifts in variation must be due to lunar inuence, and questioned a magnetic cause for the aurora (Hell, 1776; Fara, 1996, pp. 4344; Hansen & Aspaas, 2005, pp. 25, 37). Back in Vienna, where Hell experienced anti-Jesuit critiques at rst-hand, he also supplied Mesmer with his rst experimental magnets, then publicly and spectacularly broke with the physician. Hell reckoned therapies worked because of physical magnetism, Mesmer that this was a new kind of cosmic harmony (Sarton, 1944, pp. 9899; Hansmann, 1985, pp. 5456; Buranelli, 1976, pp. 6272). What was at stake here was the precise character of enlightened natural philosophy in observatories and clinics alike. It is telling that in tracing the animal magnetism of 1775 back through the animal gravity of 1766 to the atmospheric tidology of 1704, historians have also thus been preoccupied by the enlightened, thus somewhat forward-looking, condition of this mesmeric project. For Frank Pattie, as chief example, Mesmers reading of Mead made the Vienna physician a true child of the Enlightenment (Pattie, 1956, p. 286). He damned those scholars who, without ever consulting either Mesmers dissertation or Meads tract, assumed an occult astrological root for animal magnetism. On

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the contrary, it was asserted, the extreme debt to the London Newtonian showed just how close was the link between up-to-date rationalist physic and mesmeric techniques. According to Roy Porter, in his analysis of English mesmerists and the debt to Mead, this cannot be stressed too strongly: Mesmer was at heart an orthodox somatic physician who regarded animal magnetism as a material force . . . according to the criteria of the Newtonian laws of nature. Vocal as a man of the Enlightenment, he consistently denied that the science of animal magnetism had any afnities to the primitive thought worlds of astrology, occultism or mysticism (Porter, 1985, pp. 45). Mesmer himself, of course, took rather the same line. In his doctoral dissertation he freely acknowledged that he was undertaking after so many efforts by the distinguished Mead to insist on the stars inuence while simultaneously condemning the theory regarding the inuence of the stars which was formerly defended by astrologers who boast powers to predict events to come and to know the destiny of humans and at the same time swindle them of the contents of their purses thanks to a skill lled with deceit (Bloch, 1980, p. 3). Yet when this consequential distinction between quasi-Newtonian astral inuence and atavistic judicial astrology has been applied to readings of Meads work, the effect has been entirely the opposite. Mesmers reading of Mead somehow helps make Mesmer modern. But Meads reading of astro-meteorology somehow makes Mead antique. Michael Macdonald singles him out as one of few intellectuals who still continued to think that the heavens had some kind of inuence on illnesses (Macdonald, 1996, p. 80). Theodore Brown, historian of the Royal College of Physicians shift from iatromechanism to Newtonian physic in the epoch of Pitcairne and Mead, judges Meads texts of the period 17021704 ludicrous and silly in retrospect (Brown, 1981, pp. 265267). Anna Marie Roos, author of the best study of Meads doctrine of astral inuence and aerial tides, notes the Hippocratic and Galenic themes in his work. The resuscitation of the doctrine of critical days, the salience of Hippocratic notions of astronodia, through which the lunar place in the zodiac would affect the humours, and the utterly banal claims about the periodicity of the sacred disease, make Meads work completely conservative whatever the pragmatic Newtonian gloss added to its conventional prescriptions (Roos, 2000, pp. 437447). In an acute analysis of Meads claims and their development in colonial medical milieux, Mark Harrison has argued that many of the ideas constitutive of astrological medicine persisted well into the nineteenth century and that any notion of a shift from medical astrology to medical astronomy masks strong continuities with the past (Harrison, 2000, pp. 26 27). Bernard Capp claims that the application of astrology to medicine was rooted in tradition and humoural pathology and adds that the idea of some kind of astral inuence proved tenacious: Mead is one of his best examples of this unwonted tenacity (Capp, 1979, pp. 207, 277). Keith Thomas comparable survey of astrologys rather puzzling decline in Augustan Britain reaches the same conclusion: the survival of such beliefs in such a quarter as that of Mead makes one chary about putting a rm date to the end of astrological medicine in its wider sense (Thomas, 1972, pp. 421 22). And in his story of decline, transformation and survival of astrological doctrine and practice in the period, Patrick Curry makes telling use of Meads writings. Mead, the contemporary exemplar of learned medicine, was clearly willing to go further towards explicitly acknowledging astrology when drawing on its explanatory resources than were astronomers (Curry, 1986, p. 207; 1989, p. 151). So Mesmer is seen as prudently enlightened in using Meads book. Yet Mead is judged surprisingly traditional in writing it. It therefore seems appropriate once again to reect on the histories of occult doctrines genealogy produced at the time in the immediate context of these works. It has been claimed by Jacques Hal-

bronn and by other scholars that the modern history of astrology was, in some sense, invented in Paris in the later eighteenth century (Halbronn, 1987, pp. 213214). That invention coincided with the decisions of the Acadmie Royale des Sciences in the 1770s to ban debate on perpetual motion and on circle squaring, without the possession, nevertheless, of principled demonstrations of the impossibility of either. In the programmes of the prolic astronomer-savants Lalande, Bailly, Delambre and Montucla disciplinary self-consciousness accompanied the production of intellectual genealogies that treated past errors as regrettable but indispensable aspects of the emergence of enlightened reason. Adepts gathered round Mesmer at precisely the time when scientists were being inuenced by the sober astronomical mechanics of Laplace, writes Jean Starobinski. Such is the difculty experienced by certain minds in giving up the idea of a supernaturally animated universe (Starobinski, 1987, p. 189; Darnton, 1968, pp. 1517). The project matched, too, the decisive withdrawal of elite culture from that of the plebeians. It generated the intellectual and social spaces in which a science of folklore and the history of popular culture might at last be composed (Revel, 1984).

3. Anti-mesmerists historicise mesmerism Certain forms of high Enlightenment literary sociability allowed the possibility of historical reexion upon the development of doctrines till then viewed as too dangerous to be tolerated as mere falsehoods. Instead of a learned search for great and lost truths, prisca hidden since the time of the ancients, the project of these historians also sought historical and moral understanding of the emergence of views they might also judge errors. One promoter of the newly minted histories of astrology, the eminent academician and astronomer Jean-Sylvain Bailly, was also a leading member of the ofcial Paris commissions appointed in 1784 to investigate and subvert mesmerisms claims. Bailly combined a detailed, if over-scrupulous, record of the most erotic aspects of the magnetic sances with learned speculations on Greek and Indian astrology and on the reality behind Platos stories of Atlantis (Smith, 1954, pp. 455460, 484 491; Gillispie, 1980, pp. 279281). The mix of mesmeric and astrologic genealogies was common. Mesmers own doctoral dissertation already signalled a remarkable self-consciousness about his views history. The young medic adapted Horace to prophesy that many things will be reborn which have fallen and many will fall which are now honoured (Amadou, 1971, p. 32). In the debates around mesmerism some important historiographic claims were made about the relation between doctrinal change, enlightenment and the career of error. Mesmers theory of history of knowledge, rst adumbrated in his adaptation of Mead, was straightforward. It was much touted in his wealth of pamphlets and apologia. In the long ages of ignorance natures powers were hidden from humanity. Enlightenment was necessary to undermine the tyranny of systems and strip away the covers of error. Here the term superstition underwent a characteristic elision from reference to a potent and dangerous error to the name of a trivial mistake (Burke, 1978, pp. 270281). The problem, according to Mesmer, was clear: denunciatory critique could easily overstep its legitimate limits and could unwontedly reject new truths by mistaking them for old errors (Azouvi, 1985, p. 148). Philosophy has occasionally made efforts to free itself of errors and prejudices, Mesmer noted, but by destroying these edices with too much vigour, it has covered the ruins with contempt without xing its attention on the precious things contained there (Amadou, 1971, p. 60; Bloch, 1980, p. 45). He reckoned animal gravity was a portion of past treasure in danger of being mistaken for ancient dross. His closest allies agreed. The Lyons mesmerist Jean-Baptiste Bonnefoy answered the 1784 Paris


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commissioners by appealing directly to Mead and to Pitcairne. Enlightened medical meteorology, he claimed, provided stout evidence of cosmic harmony (Bonnefoy, 1784, pp. 1823). So mesmerists found it helpful to make a genealogy for their programme. Signicantly, therefore, Mesmers major critics decided to construct an ancestry for mesmerism that they reckoned would better place his practice and doctrine within medical astrologys history. Established critics linked the idiosyncrasies of the suffering body with the hard task of denunciation in such cases. This was, for sure, the view of Baillys colleague Antoine Lavoisier. The chemist argued in 1784 that the success of charlatans, sorcerers and alchemists was due in the main to the difculty of telling probable outcomes. It is above all in medicine that the difculty of evaluating probabilities is the greatest, because in animate beings the principle of life is a constantly acting force which tends continuously to defeat any obstacle (Lavoisier, 1865, p. 509). But such critics complemented this view of the tough task of divining remedies efcacy with the need to trace such strategies past. As preliminary example, consider the remarks of the eminent philosophic radical William Godwin, the London journalist who in 1785 was charged with translating the denunciatory report against Mesmer by Bailly, Lavoisier, Benjamin Franklin and their colleagues (Fara, 1995, p. 134). Godwin was entirely convinced by the Paris commissioners that mesmerism was false, in the specic sense that nothing magnetic was happening in the sances. But, he added, there is another reason which gives the error of animal magnetism a particular claim to our attention. The same error was started . . . two centuries ago. It is therefore worth our curiosity to enquire, what different instruments were necessary to deceive mankind in an ignorant and in an enlightened age, in the commencement of the seventeenth and the close of the eighteenth century (Godwin, 1785, pp. xviiixix). We see, therefore, how the history of astro-meteorology was of necessity produced as part of the debate about mesmerisms roots and rights. Mesmer claimed that resistance to his views was due to the over-development of enlightenment. His enemies claimed that acceptance of his views was due to the weakening of enlightenment. Mesmer claimed that he was a radical innovator whose views departed from ancient astro-meteorology. His enemies claimed that Mesmer was an unoriginal plagiarist of ancient astro-meteorology whose earlier practitioners were in some respects more adept. Prominent among such critics were the fashionable Parisian physicians Michel-Augustin Thouret and Jean-Jacques Paulet (Azouvi, 1985, p. 145). They both had some expertise in medical magnetism and more with the history of popular beliefs about epidemics and crises (Hannaway, 1972). Eminent member of the Socit Royale de Mdecine and editor of the inuential Gazette de sant, Paulet was peculiarly well placed. He and his colleagues insisted that the spirit of enlightenment was weakening and that Mesmers success showed this. They also held that it was crucial to construct a reliable and lengthy history of astrometeorology in order to understand where mesmerism came from and how enlightenment had ended up thus. First, they diagnosed the current ills of public belief, which had been duped into the view that in nature there are powers, invisible spirits, sylphs, which can be put at humans disposal, that most of natures phenomena, all our actions, depend on hidden springs, on an order of unknown beings, that we have not placed enough faith in talismans, judicial astrology, magical sciences, that fate and destiny are determined by particular spirits which guide us to our ends without us seeing the strings that hold us, that ultimately in this lower world we are really like puppets, ignorant and utterly blinded slaves. It is strongly impressed on everyone that it is time to enlighten oneself, that humanity must enjoy its rights

and feel the tug of invisible forces or at least recognise the hand that governs them. (Paulet, 1784, pp. 34; Starobinski, 1979, p. 169) The key phrase here was the reference to self-enlightenment. There was good enlightenment, a programme that would see through the illusions of occult fatalism; and there was bad enlightenment, a programme that would encourage orderly subjects to become self-willed citizens. The balance was hard to strike and needed better history. Paulet described how wonders have been worked without any application to the body of the sick, how love philtres; sympathies; magnetic, hermetic and spagyric medicine; mystical, cabbalistic, magic and vampiric science had overtaken modern minds and bodies (Paulet, 1784b, p. 2). He laughed at the recipe for a fashionable amulet concocted from gold dissolved in aqua regia, mixed with borax and iron and reduced to a ne powder in a black silk bag, to be electried in a ask (ibid., p. 2 n.). Parisians of 1784 could buy what was touted as a version of Kenelm Digbys sympathetic powder, alongside a host of other marvels and nostrums (Darnton, 1968, p. 33). Mesmer might also sneer at such superstition, but his strategies were allegedly no better. It was the genealogy of astro-meteorology that showed this was so. Thus Thouret: it is enough to give at least a general idea of what this doctrine was in the seventeenth century and to make better understood that which must follow. It is easily seen that there are in one and the other system the same views, the same general principles, the same pretensions to a purely external and universal medicine. (Thouret, 1784, p. 12) Critics were very clear about the particular components of mesmerisms ancestry. It was necessary, so William Godwin wrote, to run a parallel between the borrowed system of Mesmer and the original one of Paracelsus, Maxwell and Sir Kenelm Digby (Godwin, 1785, p. xix). Paracelsus, another Swabian, was thus the tap-root of this tradition. No-one has ever uttered so many extravagancies and raved with so much genius as Paracelsus (Paulet, 1784a, p. 8; Azouvi, 1985). The cosmic harmony, planetary and lunar inuences and astro-meteorological strategies of the Paracelsians were evident precedents for, and in several ways more compelling versions of, late eighteenth century sances. Paracelsus was the father of old-style magnetism (Thouret, 1784, p. 24). Here were the origins of the cosmology that imagined a power that pulls the stars towards the body and thence feeds itself, whence wisdom, sense, thought (Paulet, 1784a, p. 8). The history of medical astrology was then to be pursued into the arcana of the weapon-salve controversies, the early seventeenth century exchanges between Robert Fludd and his orthodox enemies. None of the anti-mesmerists made the mistake of reading Fludd as a straightforward Galenist. Indeed, he was treated with considerable admiration. He admits but one principle or primitive element whence ow all the others, which are only its modications or metamorphoses. This idea, of great beauty, is developed in its entire extent (ibid., p. 24). Paulet, for one, contrasted Mesmer and Fludd on the ow of celestial currents much to the formers disadvantage. In Robert Fludd the view is not extravagant, in that it supposes two uid currents opposed by nature, which correct each other. It is heat and cold that meet and moderate each other. Mesmers uid mechanics were simply inept: to allow two currents of the same nature that continually meet each other without being destroyed by the shock, that is the opposite of good sense, reason and every other physical principle (ibid., p. 65). It was urged that here Fludd was closer to Newtonian truth than was Mesmer. Furthermore, doctrinal development allowed a sympathetic reading of Fludd and ruled out tolerance of mesmerism. At least Robert Fludd made

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himself understood. Ignorant of the true laws of uid circulation and their pathways, and to complete his system of composite bodies uniformity, it is allowable that Fludd supposed poles and an equator like those in the Earth. Since the macrocosm, he said, has its poles and its equator, man or the microcosm must have its own (ibid., p. 79). But, so Paulet reckoned, the history of astronomy between 1630 and 1780 meant none could now legitimately speak thus. It is no longer allowed to suppose poles or equators in the human body; these are conventional terms accepted by astronomers and physicists to designate the limits of a body which has rotational motion and the centre of this body or current (ibid., p. 80). In a somewhat novel manner, such histories explained away past errors as understandable, thus forgivable, aspects of the pasts level of knowledge. Contemporaries such as Mesmer could not, however, be treated with such tolerance. Once Fludds repute had been re-established, it was a rather simple matter to trace his works fortuna. Writers of the 1780s thus read the seventeenth-century works of the Rostock physician Sebastian Wirdig, especially his Nova medicina spirituum (1673) dedicated to the Royal Society, with its magnicent allegory of the lunar re stolen from heaven by Prometheus and thence applied to the tasks of healing and fertility (Paulet, 1784a, pp. 39 46; Thouret, 1784, pp. 45). They also tried to make sense of the work of William Maxwell, a somewhat shadowy Scottish physician whose text on magnetic medicine, published by the Heidelberg medical dean Georg Franck in 1679, seemed an obvious and indicative precedent for the astro-meteorology of Mesmer (Thorndike, 1958, pp. 418421). In 1677 Franck was told by the Royal Societys secretary, Henry Oldenburg, that Maxwell and Fludd had both produced things of greater worth (Oldenburg, 1986, p. 340). Indeed, Maxwells principles of the workings of vital beams streaming from the astral powers and to be captured in the excremental scourings of the body summarised views already printed in London and in Edinburgh in 1656. Lauren Kassell plausibly conjectures that the original was composed in the later 1630s in close contact with Fludd himself (Kassell, 2007). Thouret remained somewhat impressed by Maxwell: the Scotsmans Medicina magnetica was surely the most complete and copious treatise upon the subject, in which he endeavoured to support its declining credit by calling on the assistance of that theory of the universal spirit that he derived from the earliest philosophers and in which we are presented with the exact counterpart of the system of M. Mesmer. (Godwin, 1785, p. 7; Azouvi, 1985, p. 147) Mesmer immediately countered Thouret and his eminent medical supporters that he had known nothing of Maxwells work. Rather, the ambitious therapist urged his programmes good enlightenment genealogy. Perhaps it will be discovered, Mesmer wearily joked, whether it follows from Maxwells propositions that there exists a mutual action or a magnetism between all bodies moving in space, and that this action is not unrelated to their conservation (a truth equally suspected by Newton, Descartes and all the men of learning who concerned themselves with general physics). (Amadou, 1971, p. 245) Mesmers critics agreed that there had been a striking hiatus between the period of Maxwell and Wirdig and that of Gassner and Mesmer himself. Astronomys dramatic transformation in the epoch of Newton, they claimed, had halted the enterprise of astro-meteorology and absorbed it within a new cosmology. This gave Richard Meads tract on planetary inuence a peculiar status in their history. None of Mesmers enemies had read the Swabians doctoral dissertation of 1766. Yet many read Mead (Pattie, 1956, p. 286). So Thouret summarised the claim about aerial tides and their

effects on the human body, which he attributed to the older London physician (Thouret, 1784, p. 22). Paulet went much further: he gave Meads text a full summary and denounced Mesmer for ignoring it. Mesmer was thus condemned for ignoring a work he had in fact plagiarised (Paulet, 1784a, p. 50). It therefore becomes appropriate to extend the analysis of the construction of an ancestry for astro-meteorology to the milieu of Meads own text. This is especially so because, as we have noted, while Mesmers exploitation of Mead has been taken as a sign of his enlightenment, Meads work has been more obscurely seen as a sign of the continued vitality of an older set of medical and astrological traditions. 4. Mead reads astro-meteorology Meads tract was composed soon after his election into the Royal Society and appointment as physician at St Thomass Hospital. He was well on the way to gaining status as the leading virtuoso and eminent physician in Augustan London, the rich contents of his private cabinets matching his public sense of his professions historical fame (Roos, 2000, p. 438). In his celebrated collection of scholars portraits, each accompanied by Meads own laudatory biographical Latin couplets, the gure of Paracelsus signicantly occupied a central place alongside images of heroes such as John Ray and Isaac Newton (Jenkins, 2003, p. 130; Jordanova, 2003, pp. 304305). The essay on solar and lunar inuence on the body was clearly the work of a learned physician fully committed to the application of the Societys presidents principles to the workings of the human body. It coincided, too, with the aftermath of the Rose case, the most serious assault to date on the powers of the College of Physicians over unlicensed practitioners and on the authority of the learned traditions of physic (Brown, 1981, p. 267; Cook, 1986, pp. 247251). A couple of years earlier, in his Mechanical account of poisons, Mead had already cited the Principias notion of universal gravitation to unfold the workings of forces between corporeal particles (Guerrini, 1996, p. 297). It was very common among Newtons immediate milieu much to stress that the programme of the Principia was not new, but a resuscitation of ancient wisdom in a new guise. The ancients, so Newton held, had known the truths of heliocentrism, of action at a distance, of the inverse square law and of the emptiness of interplanetary space. Old temples, such as Stonehenge, symbolised this true world-system. Corrupt priests and the advocates of royal divine right had subverted the truth, lling space with matter and making planets the playthings of the souls of dead monarchs (Iliffe, 1999, pp. 103105). I did not discover this, wrote Newton in his history of the true cosmology, but I tried to bring it back to light by the force of demonstration (Newton, 1981, p. 459). While these views were but rarely discussed outwith the charmed circle of Newtons immediate disciples, they were rather widely publicised in the period of Meads early writings. In his Astronomiae physicae et geometriae elementa (1702) the Oxford astronomy professor David Gregory, Meads close acquaintance, spelt out the claim, drawn from Newton himself and from the texts of Pliny and Macrobius, that the inverse square law of gravity was not unknown at least to Pythagoras. This indeed seems to be that which he and his followers would signify to us by the Harmony of the Spheres (Gregory, 1702, sig. b3; 1715, Vol. 1, p. ix). The Oxford group around Gregory soon discussed the viability of a Newtonian model of atmospheric tides (Guerrini, 1986, pp. 308309). In summer 1704, for example, John Keill, Gregory and Halley chatted about the proposal by the Scottish physician George Cheyne that there were tides in the air. In the event, they sneered at Cheynes model, much preferring that of Mead which was published later in the year (Hiscock, 1937, p. 19; Brown, 1981, p. 265 n. 72).


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Mead told a very similar story about astro-meteorology and planetary inuence on the human body (Roos, 2000, pp. 442 443; Harrison, 2000, pp. 3031). This ancient truth had been widely known and accepted, by the Hippocratics and their allies. It was a disaster for medicine that physicians had stopped working as astronomers. But when in later times, he claimed, medicine came to be accommodated to the reasonings of philosophers, no body being able to account for the manner of this celestial action, it was allowed no farther share in affecting our health than what might be imputed to the changes in the manifest constitution of the air, excepting perhaps something of truth which still remains disguised and blended with the jargon of judiciary astrology. (Mead, 1708, pp. 34) Critical days were dictated by lunar motions, not the obscure numerology of subsequently deluded physic (Roos, 2000, p. 446; Mead, 1708, pp. 2627). Mead extended his analysis of such episodes in his remarkable 1749 text on the medical cases described in Scripture. It was obvious, held the aged Mead, that the lunatic described in Matthews gospel was an epileptic, as the physician evangelist must have known. The evident relation between atmospheric tides and the sacred disease was clear to the evangelist as to Mead (Mead, 1749, pp. 8283; 1755, pp. 9394). This did not, however, warrant more superstitious beliefs about planetary therapy. Consider the popular faith in mistletoe, entirely indebted to the religion of the Druids for its great character. Wherefore it is to be ranked with those other frivolous things which superstition has introduced into physic, unless a person can work himself up into a belief that the golden sickle, with which it was cut down, the priests snow white garment, the sacrice of white bulls and other such triing circumstances are conducive towards a cure. (Mead, 1749, pp. 8990; 1755, p. 101) Meads Newtonian admirer, the antiquarian and virtuoso William Stukeley, was much more convinced of the Druids virtues (Hutton, 2009, pp. 99100). His Vegetable Sermons, one on the spiritual properties of mistletoe, delivered in Shoreditch in the 1760s, explained with immense scholarly authority that the Druids held it for the symbol of Messiah and that mistletoes corporeal link with planetary inuence made it a divine plant (Stukeley, 1763, pp. 11 12; Piggott, 1985, pp. 147149). It is also signicant that Stukeley found in his teacher Meads writings on solar and lunar powers over the body good evidence that astrological providences were based in real causes in nature (Piggott, 1985, pp. 3334; Curry, 1989, p. 123). So while Mead himself may never quite have used judicial astrological precedent, his publications certainly chimed well with the relation worked out in medical astronomy and aerial chemistry between London Newtonianism and the prisca (Jordanova, 2001). It is thus interesting to examine the commonalty of concern in Meads programme of celestial medical meteorology and several initiatives in the astrological projects of the later seventeenth century. The vibrant medical marketplace of Augustan London provided a febrile audience for any programmes that dealt in long-range inuencesnewfangled Newtonian stories about gravitational and aerial effects on the human body could easily be assimilated to notions of sympathetic medicine or become the topics of major public ribaldry (Stewart, 1992, pp. 111130). It was easy, and effective, for some satirists to link the Newtonian experimenters and physicians directly with the claims of astrology (Twombly, 2005, pp. 256257). A notorious example was the large-scale advertising industry which ourished around the socalled anodyne necklace, a preservative for children supposedly touted on behalf of the elderly physician Paul Chamberlen and his colleagues, notably through the agency of the printer Henry

Parker, son of the well known Tory astrologer and almanac maker George Parker. Alongside astro-meteorological almanacs, Henry Parker printed texts announcing this wittily marketed anodyne necklace. In 1715 one appeared from his shop in Salisbury Court with the telling title A philosophical essay upon actions on distant subjects (Doherty, 1990, pp. 272274). Signicantly, too, Isaac Newton carefully copied out the somewhat overblown and satirically lengthy title page of this book, immodestly dedicated as it was to the Royal Society and to Newtons principles of motion and light (Newton, 1715). Here stories of sympathetic medicine, from such older authorities as Paracelsus, Kenelm Digby, and Robert Boyle, were all cunningly assimilated to the principles of Sir Isaac Newton in a manner that resembled the tone of voice adopted by Mead (A philosophical essay upon actions on distant subjects, 1715, pp. 2, 4). Persons against change of weather feel pains either in their corns or old bruises, because the air before those changes of weather being heavier than ordinary, press more than usually the atoms in the pores of those parts, a truth vouchsafed, so the copy-writers alleged, by universal laws of Nature demonstrated by Newton himself (ibid., pp. 3, 8). Indeed, in early 1723 Parkers allies appealed to Meads authority to vouchsafe the efcacy of their anodyne necklace and its ability to act, through a Newtonian efuvium, on the suffering human body (Doherty, 1990, p. 284). Some neat boundary work was needed before Meads atmospheric tides could thus somehow make their way as securely orthodox collegiate medicine. Compare these two contemporary British responses. In 1707 the Yorkshire physician Jeremiah Wainewright published a Mechanical account of the non-naturals. The Leyden graduate dutifully reproduced what was rapidly becoming Newtonian orthodoxy. Planetary inuence, varying as the inverse square law, was undeniably a force on the human body. Those who think the Planets have no inuence at all, need but to read Dr Meads book to be convinced of their error, for he has from Sir Isaac Newtons principles demonstrated the necessity of their inuence upon human bodies, so that what was heretofore only conjecture is now a demonstrated truth. (Wainewright, 1707, p. 81) Within a few decades, Meads claims had somehow become both self-evident and also risible. In 1748 the ghastly William Douglas, satirist, man-midwife and royal physician, thus debunked Meads achievements: These learned lucubrations of the Dons met with so good a reception from the literati of that age that he fancyd himself an Oracle, and presently set up for a conjuror under the pompous Title of Astrologer-General . . . He became principal Secretary to all the Planets and Prime Minister to the Sun and Moon, of whose powers and faculties he wrote a learned and elaborate Treatise . . . He discoverd such depth of science and profound erudition in this and all his other works that if Solomon had been alive he had burnt his Proverbs as not be put in competition with the shrewd observations of this Prince of Physicians. He wrote them all in Latin, disdaining to permit his learned Labours to be deled with the vulgar Dialect. (Douglas, 1748, p. 20; Day, 1979; Roos, 2000, p. 439) A text such as that of Richard Mead suggests something of the complex course of this history of astro-meteorological erudition. Its originality or its banality, its radicalism or its atavism, are fascinating puzzles for historians just as they were for Meads contemporaries and immediate successors. Late eighteenth century radicals could nd a role for such celestial causation alongside interests in mesmerism and in climate (Harrison, 2000, p. 41; Fara, 1996; Fulford, 2004). Meads text could take its place in the

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development of a general environmental medicine, much concerned with the aerial powers in disease and the animal economy. In 1767 the London parson and oriental scholar George Costard gave a thorough account of the environmental and medical consequences of Meads doctrine of atmospheric tides in his history of astronomy (Costard, 1767, pp. 274276). To mark the signicant JupiterSaturn conjunction of 1782, a more catchpenny cartographer and almanac maker, Thomas Harrington, released an account of astro-meteorology which used Meads excellent treatise to insist that the planets affected climate and epidemics, violent and occult diseases with which whole nations are seized. But the tract simultaneously claimed that we do not mean to blend our ideas with the jargon of judicial astrology, which pretends to foretell moral events . . . The inuences of the planets upon the earth, air, and human bodies may be accounted for on just and rational principles (Harrington, 1782, pp. 39, 47). It is a nice puzzle to assign this form of celestial environmentalism to advanced enlightened physic or to received astrological medicine. Historians of enlightenment environmental doctrines note a subtle shift after the period of Sydenham in the status of aerial causation of bodily indisposition. The Scriblerian pamphleteer Arbuthnot is a salient case. Fierce against judicial astrology and witty participant in the efforts to demolish the repute of the hapless John Partridge during the Bickerstaff controversy, Arbuthnot also composed a major tract on aerial medicine in 1733 which drew on Mead, Halley and the Newtonian natural philosophers to urge the role of the air in establishing character, disease and epidemics (Arbuthnot, 1733, p. 42; Riley, 1987, pp. 1718; Rusnock, 2002). The distinctive shift in views of airs powers and their celestial sources was certainly linked to the manufacture and marketing of weather glasses and barometers, the cultivation of large-scale weather diaries and atmospheric vigilance. The sources for this project, as Jan Golinski has demonstrated for us, lie in the astrometeorology and the pneumatic experimentalism of the Restoration (Golinski, 2007, pp. 140144). A complex set of practical relations was established between the glass-works of Boyle and Robert Hooke and the astro-meteorology of Goad and Childrey. In Britannia Baconica the Tory cleric Childrey urged the planetary causes of epidemics (Childrey, 1662, pp. 122127; Curry, 1987, p. 247). He followed this with a major contribution to tide theory, much debated at the Royal Society in the late 1660s (Reidy, 2008, pp. 2029; Porter, 1981). Here Childrey used the testimony of coastal watermen to establish the role of the Moon in xing tidal heights (Childrey, 1670; Deacon, 1971, pp. 102108). While Mead dropped any reference to Childrey from his astro-medical writings after his tract of 1708, he always kept his discussion of Goad (Mead, 1708, p. 31; 1748, p. 4). The metropolitan Goad had taken a characteristically more robust position on these matters. The head of Merchant Taylors School insisted that his very lengthy weather diary and his ingenious manipulation of barometric data taught how the alteration of the air comes home to our doors and the causes sometimes shine in at our windows (Goad, 1686, sig. ar). For this highly conservative natural philosopher, astro-meteorology was a weapon against materialism and atheism, especially its Cartesian versions. Is it not pity that a foreign mode of philosophy, though transient with the age, should debauch the present generations and unhinge us from the knowledge of the creator (Goad, 1686, sig av; Curry, 1989, pp. 6771; Golinski, 2007, p. 100). This was the interest, too, that lay behind Newtons exactly contemporary if politically very different programme. The best way of assaulting both materialist atheism and papist idolatry, so the Royal Societys president held, was to show the active principles placed by providence in the cosmos to direct the affairs of the animal economy on Earth (Iliffe, 1999, pp. 101103). The decisive link between these various enterprises in astrometeorology and aerial tidology was the growth in the barometer

market from trials with weather glasses in the earlier seventeenth century. Cosmological experiments became domestic instruments: trials on the atmospheric effects on water and mercury became devices that indexed pressure change. Such work with weather glasses and cognate devices was much encouraged in Baconian programmes, inspired by texts such as Historia ventorum (1622) and Sylva sylvarum (1627), which proposed the study of effects of Sun, Moon and planetary conjunctions on winds and of moonlight on standing waters. Fludds fascination with winds and weather glasses matched this project and linked it with the complementary powers of medical magnetism (Debus, 1982; Huffmann, 1988, pp. 121125; Kassell, 2007; Golinski, 2007, p. 112). Similar initiatives were set forth by the Parliamentary administrator Benjamin Worsley in the late 1650s. A key source for Worsleys memoir was the Enchiridion physicae restitutae (circa 1608) of Jean dEspagnet, a philosophical work which also played a major role in Newtons early alchemical thought (Clericuzio, 1994, p. 241). Worsley then composed an extensive memorandum on undeniable experiments, not only from things inanimate and vegetate, but from the undoubted observations of physicians, as well in several chronical as acute distempers, and more eminently in all lunatic, epileptic, paralitic or lethargic persons (Hunter & Davis, 2000, p. 49). These trials demonstrated, so Worsley reckoned, that the stars and planets were not bare candles to us, but bodies full of proper motion, of peculiar operation and of life (ibid., p. 51). Astronomy would be of little interest were there no mutual inuences between the stars and the animal economy. The immediate need was a general Baconian programme involving those rare instruments they call thermometers or weather glasses (ibid., p. 53; Clericuzio, 1994, pp. 244245). An associated text by Worsley pointed out that market gardeners, farmers, sailors and indeed the greatest mass of doctors all knew well of the lunar inuence on the Earth and on its inhabitants (Curry, 1986, p. 259). Worsley sent his memorandum to his colleagues Samuel Hartlib and Elias Ashmole, discussed it with the astronomers and almanac makers Thomas Streete and Nicholas Mercator, and had it condemned by the Oxford professoriate. Thence the work came into the hands of Robert Boyle, who certainly shared many of Worsleys views on cosmic agents and the aerial economy and has often been mistaken as the author of Worsleys essay (Roos, 2000, p. 440; 2001, pp. 192197; Harrison, 2000, p. 28; Clericuzio, 1994, p. 244; Hunter & Davis, 2000, p. xiv). In Boyles posthumous work, General history of the air (1692), edited by John Locke, Worsleys letter was printed anonymously with a brief addition by Boyle. This addition summarised a report Boyle had from a Java physician that long exposure to moonlight caused dramatic bodily contractions curable only with aromatic medicines (Hunter & Davis, 2000, p. 56). Thus the programme for pneumatic surveillance and planetary meteorology appeared with authoritative Boylean imprimatur at the same time as did the new Newtonian theory of the tides and of astral gravity (Golinski, 2007, pp. 204205; Harrison, 2000, pp. 2729). The widespread signicance of these projects is evidenced by a large number of London publications in the later seventeenth century that made much of celestial inuence on aerial and bodily conditions. Lancelot Coelson, Paracelsian physician and almanac maker, issued his 1687 almanac with the insistence that the newfangled lunar theory of the tides was fresh evidence for celestial inuence. This was a mysterious unaccountable energy, according to Coelson, not attributable to lunar light nor heat, but some invisible wyres which is not hard to imagine tho very hard to be exactly comprehended. This was a good case of a popular astrologer in direct dialogue with new natural philosophies of planetary power (Coelson, 1687, sigs. C3vC4r; Capp, 1979, p. 209). To illustrate the complexity of the relation between astrology and aerial tidology, Golinski helpfully directs us to the response to the work of the


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St Albans physician Gustavus Parker, who between 1699 and 1702 produced a series of pamphlets touting a novel portable barometer that allegedly allowed long-range weather prediction (Golinski, 2007, p. 131). Parker directly assaulted the astro-meteorology of planetary aspects. It was not the angles between the planets but the beams of the other planets and stars which pass directly down upon us and so had real effects on the animal economy and the atmosphere (Parker, 1699, pp. 6465). To bolster his claims about barometric divination and the direct effects of lunar action on the human body, Parker simply plagiarised the passage on Javanese lunar cramps that Boyle had added to Worsleys astrological letter in General history of the air (Parker, 1699, pp. 6162). Though his critics missed this literary theft, Parkers views in any case went down very badly in London. They were attacked by the aged astrologer John Gadbury, who in 1701 published an angry answer entitled Stars and planets the best barometers. This defence of astro-meteorology might have been expected (Golinski, 2007, p. 131). But Parker was also attacked by Londons leading barometer-maker, the Torricellian operator John Patrick, who unfavourably compared Parkers predictions for autumn 1700 with his own weather diary. Patrick added a telling passage in which the claims of this seemingly naturalistic barometry were damned in comparison with those of Gadburys astrological successor George Parker, colleague of Halley and of Flamsteed: Whereas [Gustavus Parker] condently asserts that the planets or their aspects have no inuence on the weather (as I am a stranger to that science) I shall not debate the subject nor discuss any thing, but leave him and the astrologians [sic] to dispute that point. However, I will recommend him to the perusal of his namesake [George] Parkers double ephemeris for the present year [1700] wherein Septembers observations he predicts before the months end turbulent thunder and lightning as it really happen. (Patrick, 1700; Curry, 1989, p. 77) Golinski convincingly proposes that barometers such as those marketed by Patrick and Parker welded the success of new experimental philosophy to the vigour of astrological expectation (Golinski, 2007, p. 133). It is certainly telling that representative texts such as the entry on astrology in Ephraim Chambers Cyclopaedia (1717) proffered as authorities Goads astro-meteorology, Worsleys anonymous astrological letter on the weather glass and Meads tract on planetary inuence in the animal economy (Roos, 2000, pp. 440 441; Curry, 1989, pp. 148149). Signicant, too, was the common eighteenth-century shift between the barometer as an instrument potentially indicative of bodily states and the body as what Terry Castle calls a feminized weatherglass, akin to the barometer in its unstable and tremulous vulnerability to atmospheric change (Castle, 1995, pp. 2535; Golinski, 2007, pp. 150152). No doubt, indeed, these potent links between cosmos, air, instrument and body were decisive resources in making sense of mesmerism. Historians have rightly argued that natural histories of the weather and natural philosophy of active principles made the late eighteenth century therapies of animal electricity and animal magnetism especially plausible (Sutton, 1981, p. 377). It is suggestive how many of the protagonists of the mesmerism ghts were also involved in programmes of pneumatic medicine: Lavoisier, Paulet and Thouret in Paris, and the preeminent advocate of medical eudiometry and Mesmers principal enemy in Vienna, Jan Ingenhousz, were all involved in these debates. They devised glass instruments of water and mercury that could estimate the virtues of the air, thence deduce major consequences for the welfare of the animal economy. They conducted tours of Europe, visiting beaches and markets, graveyards and hospitals, assaying air quality and phlogiston content and proposing major initiatives in the reformist management of the social body

(Schaffer, 1990; Levere, 2000). The key critic of mesmerisms historical ancestry, Thouret, was simultaneously the principal Parisian medical ofcial who applied eudiometric measures to the clearance of dangerous miasmas from sewers and cemeteries (Corbin, 1986, pp. 3132, 102; Hannaway & Hannaway, 1977). As agent of medical police, Thouret used instrumental measures of aerial epidemics that seemed to be able to act on groups of human bodies simultaneously and at a distance: his pneumatics then revealed the real uids working their devastating effects on the suffering body. In general, public health in some ways follows the vicissitudes of the commonwealth. Morals empire over our bodies is the means of real inuence and which above all deserves to be observed (Thouret, 1784, p. 184). Just as pneumatic instruments such as barometers and eudiometers were especially sensitive to changes of milieu, so, it was claimed, the feminine bodies on whom mesmerists worked were especially responsive to such inuence. Hence the attention paid to the barometers and thermometers that stood alongside the mesmerists rods, buckets and aromatic censers (Castle, 1995, pp. 3335). In the mesmeric case, the instruments wielded by Touret, Lavoisier, Bailly and Franklin revealed the epidemic power of imagination, a moral inuence that worked on the vulnerable and tremulous body: Theres nothing less needful here than to appeal to magnetism, because acting at a distance denes the truly magnetic character, and here there is immediate contact. It is more particularly by speaking to the imagination that one can be made to believe that M Mesmer works wonders (Thouret, 1784, pp. 205 206). The key move, then, in the anti-mesmeric campaign was to identify an epidemiology of imagination with an epidemiology of aerial inuence, then to nd historical ancestry for this connexion in the works of the astrologers and iatrochemists (Azouvi, 1976, pp. 132136; Riskin, 2002, pp. 216218). 5. Conclusion Those enterprises focused on the atmospheric milieu, its links with the suffering body and the planetary system, produced an unusually active attention among the enlightened to the long history of astro-meteorology and the animal economy, including the re-excavation of texts such as those of Fludd, Maxwell and their ilk. Historians have been pre-occupied by the lengthy process through which a doctrine of astral inuence and humoral physic was transformed into a programme of environmental determinism and the enlightened climatology of character and nation. This story typically starts with the high Renaissance views of writers such as the humanist lawyer Jean Bodin, expressed in his Methodus ad facilem historiarum cognitionem (1566), which used astrology and climate to produce a determinist natural history of national type and character: there could be a geography of character because the elements are disturbed by the power of the celestial bodies, while the human body is encompassed in the elements, the blood in the body, the spirit in the blood, the soul in the spirit, the mind in the soul (Bodin, 1945, p. 100; Glacken, 1967, p. 439). Later authorities, contemporaries and readers of Mead such as Arbuthnot, Montesquieu and Hume, somehow secularised such doctrines, charting the atmospherics and climatics of human character and body type. Montesquieus notorious microscopic examination of frozen sheep tongues, which convinced him that as the temperature fell the nerves shrank, so that in cold countries they have very little sensibility for pleasure, tted well into an environmental project which sought to associate atmospherics with character and national habit (Glacken, 1967, p. 569; Jordanova, 1979). Resources for such typically enlightened attempts to materialise civility in body type and aerial order were certainly found in the long history of humoral astrology and astro-meteorology.

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Variations of body type, and of disease, across terrestrial space could thus be mapped and analysed. David Hume, in common with many enlightened literati, reckoned that philosophers and men of taste possessed ner nerves and more responsive bodies than those of the common sort. Body type varied across social as well as physical space (Lawrence, 1979). In the links between Mead and Mesmer, bodily difference and its atmospherics were used to explain social and geographical variation: this is why, as Harrison correctly argues, celestial causation for disease and its epidemiology ourished as a view among colonial medics in the eighteenth century (Harrison, 2000, pp. 3233). But they were also at least as signicantly used to explain away variation in therapeutic and experimental outcomes. So in his defence of the signicance of the lunar cycle of critical days, Mead claimed that such techniques had been wrongly judged false by past physicians who had not fully analysed the differences between eastern maladies, for which the critical schedules had rst been developed, and the diseases of the north, to which they must now be revised then applied. Variation in bodies could salvage troubled medical technique (Mead, 1708, p. 23). In 1714 Meads witty medical colleague John Arbuthnot even turned the claim into a telling joke. Though it shall be demonstrated that modern blood circulates, Arbuthnot had one of his mock sages opine, yet I will still believe with Hippocrates that the blood of the Ancients had a ux and reux from the heart, like a Tide . . . Can we be so vain as to imagine that the Microcosm of the human body alone is exempted from the fate of all things? I question not but plausible conjectures may be made even as to the time when the blood rst began to circulate. (Kerby-Miller, 1988, pp. 125126) Human bodies themselves had histories, which could be used to defend medical doctrine against critique, explain away therapeutic outcomes, and map the temporal as well as the spatial variation of anatomy and disease. The course of the mesmerism controversies owed much to these claims. It was not Mesmer but his enemies who insisted that the successes of animal gravity and animal magnetism were due to the astonishing variations in the capacities and qualities of different kinds of bodies. Differences of sex and class, of time and space, thus became crucial features of the historical body. The commissioners of 1784 reported that they found magnetism then, or rather the operations of the imagination, are equally discoverable at the theatre, in the camp, and in all numerous assemblies . . . The ideas are re-excited, the sensations are reproduced, the imagination, employing its accustomed instruments and resuming its former routes, gives birth to the same phenomenon . . . compression, imagination, imitation are therefore the true causes of the effects attributed to this new agent, known by the appelation of animal magnetism, this uid, which is said to circulate through the human body and to be communicated from individual to individual. (Godwin, 1785, pp. 9597; Azouvi, 1976, p. 136; Riskin, 2002, pp. 216221) In this project, an acute inquiry into the material powers of celestial uids acting remotely on the body turned into an historical, social and moral examination of the remote propagation of beliefs about the capacities of the human body. An entire history of medical astrology began to be made. Differences in the quality of bodies soon became evident, in ceremonies of the Revolution and the Terror, in innovative medical and social strategies that ranged from physiognomy to alienism (Outram, 1989; Baecque, 1993). Enlightened savants gathered around the mesmeric tubs and poring over astrological texts began to identify seductive phenomena

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